East Peoria gas station robbery suspect retreats to his room

Michael Smothers GateHouse Media Illinois


While taking a motel room next to a business one plans to rob may be convenient, it’s typically not wise.
Rico Pittman of Peoria proved that point when he was arrested minutes after trying to rob the cash register of an East Peoria gas station Friday night, according to charges filed in Tazewell County’s weekend bonding court.
Pittman, 26, said his attempt to rob the Circle K gas station and convenience store at 301 N. Main St. came as a sudden whim. “He said he just ‘lost it,’” according to a county prosecutor’s court affidavit.
His escape route apparently didn’t extend beyond his flight on foot back to his room at the Motel 6, just behind the station at 104 W. Camp St.
The station’s attendant, however, said a man he later identified as Pittman entered the store at 6 p.m., two hours before the crime. “He just hung around but didn’t buy anything” as the attendant dealt with the crowd of customers at that busy hour, according to the affidavit.
The station was empty when Pittman returned. While the attendant tended to its hot dog stand, Pittman went behind the counter and began pounding on the cash register’s keys in an attempt to open the machine, the attendant said. He kept his hand in his pocket “as if he had a gun,” the attendant said.
That potential danger didn’t stop the attendant from confronting Pittman. He told him to leave the store and pushed him out of the way to reach the phone to call the police, the attendant said.
Pittman pushed him back before fleeing from the store, the attendant said. When police arrived several minutes later, the attendant told them the would-be robber ran straight toward the motel.
A check of the motel’s guest list revealed Pittman’s name and room number. The officers found him there and, after comparing photos from the store’s security camera with Pittman’s driver’s license photo, took him into custody for the botched robbery. The attendant also identified Pittman, according to the affidavit.
Pittman told police he wanted to be “nonviolent and just take the money,” the affidavit stated. He banged on the cash register because he had no idea how else to open it, he said.
He was charged in court with burglary and attempted robbery. Bond was set at $10,000 pending an April 3 preliminary hearing.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin

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